MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Over the past few months, you may have heard friends declare, “I’m done with social media.”
Then they post again the following day.
So, why is it so hard to quit?
Our feelings about social media can span a range of emotions. Some may feel it is too political, too negative or too polarizing — while at the same time see how well it allows for connection and access to information.
“First, we have to think about the benefits of social media,” says Greg Swan, a vice president of public relations and brand Innovation at Minneapolis advertising agency space150. “Why do we want to be on social media?”
He points out three major benefits: connections with other people, a way to share your voice and a popular vehicle for getting the news.
We are sharing fewer cute kid photos every year. Personal social sharing is down 15 percent year over year, making way for more news and commentary online.
Sixty-two percent of people now say they get their news from social media.
“You think about why you can’t quit social media? That’s where you get your news in 2016,” Swan said.
Cornell researchers looked at some of the reasons people who quit Facebook were drawn back in. They studied surveys of people who chose to take in the “99 Days of Freedom” Facebook challenge by stepping away from the social media site. Not everyone could stay off Facebook the entire 99 days.
They found four major reasons for returning back to the site. First, people who think it is addictive are more likely to fall back into the habit.
Second, people who use Facebook to influence how other people think of them had a better chance of not completing the challenge.
Third, good moods kept people off the site for longer compared to bad moods.
And fourth, people were more likely to stay away if they still took part in other social media platforms.
Swan says the ubiquity of our smartphones also plays a role.
“There’s more technology in this phone than what sent the first person to space. It’s no wonder we can’t put it down,” Swan said. “That said, it doesn’t take a lot to set them down and walk away.”
He suggests taking a social media break if you think you need it by unfollowing people or groups you believe to be toxic, deleting the apps from your phone or stopping for a short period of time.
He locks his phone in a safe for one week every year.